Michael Johnson started with the San Quentin News in March of 2019. He is very active at San Quentin, participating in many prison programs. Those programs include: Alcoholics Anonymous, Marin Shakespeare, Quentin Cooks, Over-Comers, The Work, and Al-Anon. He has also completed the following groups: E.L.I.T.E. and Coalition for Justice. Michael is an active member of the Thousand Mile Running Club at San Quentin, in which he is training for his second Marathon. Since Michael has been incarcerated he has earned an A.A. degree in Business from Coastline Community College, a B.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Business Administration and Legal Studies, from Adams State University. Moreover, Michael has recently obtained his Master’s degree in Business Administration from Adams State University, graduate fall 2019. Upon release from prison Michael hopes to put his education to good use, find a challenging job, stay connected with God, start a family and live a simple, clean life.
He is a 42 year old youth offender who grew into a journalist.
He cover the sporting events inside of San Quentin, capturing the competitive interactions between the inside and outside community.
He is also a Criminal and Gang Anonymous graduate under the ‘Renewal of the Natural Self’ class. He learned Restorative Justice and other forms of community healing from the self-help group Alliance for Change. His goal is to provide healing through words and art.
Journalism guild Chairperson
As a child born in San Francisco and raised throughout the Bay Area, Joe Garcia first looked at San Quentin in only one light—as a prison for California’s worst criminals. It took his own incarceration and years of personal experience within the system to see San Quentin for what it truly is today—a vibrant and thriving community fueled by integrity, compassion, vulnerability and hope.
SQNews and its mission of advancing social justice mean far more to Garcia than simply a job or a career. For him, it’s a lifestyle, a part of his soul. As Journalism Guild Chairperson, he learns valuable life lessons daily from the Guild Writers he mentors. They often look to him as some sort of authoritative figure, which always surprises him—because he prefers to see himself as simply one of them, just one incarcerated voice amongst many.
Reporting on the community around him, Garcia often feels overwhelmingly inspired by the things he sees and hears with his own eyes and ears—the incredible stories that scream to be told. It’s an immense privilege, honor and responsibility that Garcia holds sacred as he continues to gain profound insights into the resiliency of the human spirit.
Aaron Showtime Taylor has been a sports writer since developing his own sports page at Centinela State Prison in 2007. When he arrived at San Quentin State Prison in December 2011, within a year, he was on staff covering sports for San Quentin News.
“I’m a play by play announcer, so I get to know everyone who’s involved with sports at the facility. It’s easier to find those human interest stories within the sporting community by knowing all the athletes. Telling other peoples’ stories through the paper is something that I enjoy doing, getting into their personal story.”
Taylor wrote for San Quentin News Sports from Jan. 2013- Nov. 2014, and currently from March 2019 when he became the paper’s sports editor.
Taylor has received accolades from several major news media organizations, including ESPN, Fox Sports, Heist Projects, San Francisco Chronicle, the online magazine theathletic.com as well as LIVE LAW and has been a part of several audio projects with NPR and KQED. As the ‘Voice of San Quentin Sports,’ has also worked with ABC sports show host Larry Biel and several professional sports stars of all genres that have entered San Quentin to take part in various sporting events, and is also featured in the sports documentary Q Ball. He is also looking forward to working with the Golden State Warriors Basketball team and has secured a job upon his release with the Pittsburg Diamonds, an independent professional baseball team in Northern California.
Taylor has taken several self-help groups over the past 25 years, recently graduating from G.R.I.P. (Guiding Rage Into Power) on June 21st, 2019. He’s also taken Alternatives to Violence and Cage Your Rage (2007 – 2010), where he became a facilitator in each group. He also taken classes in the Prison University Project (PUP), becoming a teacher’s assistant in the Communications 146 class.
Taylor is currently awaiting his parole consultation, preparing to go to his initial parole hearing, and to go home to a life of sports broadcasting and enjoying time with his wife and family.
SQ News Photographer
My name is Javier Jimenez and I am a 42 year old Mexican- American male currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. Although I have immersed myself in education through college and vocational programs, for which I am grateful and appreciative of, it was not until I was afforded the opportunity to become the photographer for the San Quentin News that I found my passion addressed. Making pictures through the lens of a camera is something I find amazingly fulfilling. Recording moment, memories, and scenery, is like being able to carve out a little piece of history as I have seen it, allowing me to share it with the world. I love to learn about photography through reading, but when the camera is in my hands and I’m looking through the view finder thinking of light, speed, and composition, I come to life. In addition, I see photography as great way to pay back my community and help troubled youth. I feel as though if I was able to find my passion through photography, some of the troubled youth in my community may be able to find their passion through a viewfinder as well. By teaching youth surrounded by negative influences the beauties of photography I believe I will produce a positive outlet and give them something to focus on other than the ugliness that may surround them. PHOTOGRAPHY IS MY CALLING!
Richard Alexander Richardson, also known as Bonaru, was born February 7, 1973, in East Los Angeles California. He spent part of his childhood and adolescence living in Modesto California, where he volunteered with the youth playing activities at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Park.
He earned his A.A. degree in general studies at Patten University and vocation trade as an Offset Operator from Robert E. Burton Adult School. Bonaru is now the Executive Editor and serves on the San Quentin News editorial board.
Bonaru enjoys bragging about his amazing children, beautiful grandchildren and wonderful wife La-Keesha Richardson. If Bonaru were to be release from prison anytime soon he would become a truck driver like his three brothers and start a truck driving company that would help employ ex-offenders upon their release.
Kevin D. Sawyer is an African American native of San Francisco, California, born in 1963. He has written numerous unpublished short stories, memoirs, essays, poems and journals on incarceration and other subjects. Some of his work has appeared in Street Spirit, Oakland Post, California Prison Focus, San Francisco Chronicle,The Life of the Law, 580 Split, The Pioneer,Brothers in Pen anthologies, Iron City Magazine, Wall City, San Francisco Bay View, and the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons.
Sawyer is the associate editor for San Quentin News (www.sanquentinnews.com) and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). He’s a 2019 PEN America Honorable Mention in nonfiction, a 2016 recipient of The James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and he was on the News team that won SPJ’s 2014 James Madison Freedom of Information Award.
Prior to incarceration, Sawyer worked 14 successive years in the telecommunications industry for several corporations. He is a certified electrician through the National Center for Construction Education and Research and a practiced guitar and piano player. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication with a special broadcasting option from California State University, Hayward, and a Diploma as a paralegal from Blackstone Career Institute. He is currently working on a novel.
My name is Juan Haines. In 2009, I began working for San Quentin News.
I got my feet wet, first by writing for the Journalism Guild. About a year later, I became a staff writer and quickly got promoted to Managing Editor. Today, I am the senior editor. My job consists of reviewing staff and Kid CAT articles for the newspaper’s community advisers. I also process the content for the San Quentin News quarterly magazine, Wall City. I am also tasked with producing video content for website and social media.
Jonathan Chiu is 36 years old and was born in Hong Kong, China. His family emigrated to the United States in 1990.
He was hired in December 2015 as a layout designer where he began creating original crossword puzzles. He is an avid runner and has completed 3 San Quentin 1000 Mile Club Marathons and is featured in the upcoming documentary called 26.2 to Life directed by Christine Yoo. He shared his experience with the Marshall Project called The Time in I Ran a Marathon in Prison.
He is a stand-up comic and was starred in the radio broadcast Introverted Comedian on 91.7 KALW.org
I have been in prison for 27 years. During this time, I never found an opportunity to do something I could be passionate about. I arrived to San Quentin State Prison on 2013. I had a few different prison jobs before I was invited to join the SQ News team as a layout designer and staff writer. At first, I struggled a bit, but the camaraderie of my co-workers supported me as I learned our SQ News objectives. I have worked to support rehabilitative efforts to increase public safety and achieve social justice and to be the voice of those who don’t have the opportunity to shout out their needs to be heard. This also helped me understand that I have the obligation, as a member of society, to be part of this movement. Now, being part of the SQ News gives me the opportunity to do just that – support the voice of those who want to be heard. I am grateful and a proud member of the SQ News family.
David joined the San Quentin News staff in August 2018.
David enjoys writing, and hopes to make a positive contribution to the incarcerated community and beyond by advancing social justice with the SQ News team.
Before joining the SQ News, he spent his three years at San Quentin helping students in the bilingual Adult Basic Education classes learn English and math skills as a Teacher’s Aide with the Robert E. Burton Adult School.
David also volunteers in Project R.E.A.C.H., tutoring students as they reach for educational achievement and change with help.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and cellular biology at U.C.S.D. and is currently renewing and broadening his formal education through coursework in the Prison University Project.
Close connections with his family continually reward David with personal motivation to do good at work and throughout life.
Timothy Hicks is a native of Oakland, California born in 1971.
Tim began writing stories for San Quentin News through its Journalism Guild where he covered sports and other news; a year later, he joined the San QuentinNews team as a staff writer. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, a certified Micro Soft literacy graduate, and is currently enrolled in the Prison University Project to earn his AA degree.
Before incarceration, Tim wrote journals to document his daily life. He has written short stories, rap, and poetry. He self-published the urban novel Brothas From Anotha Motha: a fictional tale of characters portraying a lifestyle he once knew. Authored, Timothy (T-Bone) Hicks.
He re-kindled his passion for journalism when he arrived at San Quentin. Since then, he has evolved not only as a writer, but also in his personal growth. He’s part of a team of men that conducts tours for outside visitors to give them the experience of what rehabilitated men in San Quentin State Prison life is like. Tim believes, “ It is an opportunity to change the perspective of those who might view inmates with a negative stigma.”
Tim has aspirations of learning all what it takes to become a great journalist.
Tim is a writer for other publications and continues to broaden his horizons in the world of journalism.
Also, see Tim's perspective on how writing is therapeutic for him in a video titled, Losing my Mind.
Rahsaan Thomas writes Sports and other stories for San Quentin News. He also co-founded Prison Renaissance with Emile DeWeaver. He’s a contributing writer for the Marshall Project and he believes in Restorative Justice. The Brooklyn, New York native has two sons, but no wife.
“On streets I sought power through things outside myself. In prison, through writing, I’ve found my power and purpose inside myself.” –Rahsaan Thomas
Jesse Vasquez started as a staff writer for the San Quentin News, and then served as the managing editor before being promoted to editor in chief. He continued in the footsteps of his predecessors Arnulfo T. Garcia and Richard Richardson who believed in altering the stereotypes of the incarcerated, prison conditions, and policies by highlighting that change is possible when given the opportunity, resources, and support.
He was serving multiple life terms for attempted murder until August 17, 2018 when Governor Jerry Brown commuted his sentence to 15 years to life.
He was found suitable for parole by the Board of Prison Terms on February 5th 2019.
He is looking forward to helping his community heal from the intergenerational trauma.
David B. Le
Circulation and Distribution
David B. Lê is a Vietnamese refugee who immigrated to the United States and resided in Oakland, California in 1990.
At age 21, he committed murder and was sentenced to 40 years and two life terms.
While incarcerated, David earned an Associate’s Degree, completed numerous rehabilitation programs, e.g., Non-Violent Communication, Victim Awareness, Restorative Justice and Alternative to Violence. He practices what he learned in his daily interactions with other incarcerated men, staff and volunteers.
In 2016, David gave a TEDx talk on Second Chances at San Quentin State Prison.
In 2018, David received a commutation from California Governor Jerry Brown.
Currently, he is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, supports the San Quentin News with its operation, and is a member of the Editorial Board. He also volunteers as a tutor and teacher’s assistant in various voluntary education programs and community events, e.g. TRUST’s Annual Health Fair, San Quentin’s Day of Peace, food sales, criminal justice forums. He enjoys journaling, origami and bar exercise.
Tommy Winfrey is an award-winning writer, and several San Quentin offices display his art.
Art helped me see that even though there are constants hemmed by the rules of life, there is always room for creativity. Paint flows off the brush a certain way. It obeys the law of physics. But even with that, there are ways to create and make the paint do what you want."
For several years, Winfrey wrote for the San Quentin News. Two stories stood out for him — one was on eugenics. “I honestly believe that eugenics have not ended in this country. Modern-day corrections has ensured that segments of the population do not propagate.” The second story was on the prison graveyard. He talked about what motivated him to write it: “I felt that nobody cared about the bodies that lie on that hill and someone should.”
Web Manager - Former Staff
Starting at the Journalism Guild, a Staff Writer and former Managing Editor, Wayne most recently served as the Web Manager. A fifth generation Californian and inmate serving 92 months for gross negligent vehicular manslaughter at San Quentin State Prison. Wayne is active in many prison programs including the Prison University Project.
Wayne sees the San Quentin News staff as having a fundamental understanding of cognitive, social and cultural processes that impact and transform individuals from normal to dysfunctional - resulting in criminal activity. By recognizing we are all physical psychological and socio-cultural, then encouraging cross-level coherence, our staff seeks to publish a newspaper that inspires transformation. The San Quentin News is an objective news platform that reports on prison life and the criminal justice system. We are a news source that seeks to inspire change in the inmate population and report on efforts to formulate a rational and consensual criminal justice system.
Wayne earned over 500 days off his sentence with 'good-time' (violation free) and milestone credits. He credits his early release to magic as in 500 Pounds of Happiness.
This newspaper has previously reported on the life and untimely death of former editor Arnulfo T. Garcia. However, Garcia was much more than editor of the San Quentin News (SQN), he was a towering visionary and dreamer.
Arnulfo was born July 27, 1952. He was 65 when he died September 23, 2017 in a car crash a few short months after his release.
Under the guidance of Garcia, the San Quentin News transitioned from being a reporter of news to being a source of news. Through the News forums, Garcia was able to let criminal justice decision makers experience the results of their decisions.
Marisa Rodriguez, prosecutor and director of community relations for San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. “Arnulfo has been able to impact the lives and thoughts of a great many people working in the criminal justice system. He has directly shifted the mindset of prosecutors for many jurisdictions throughout the country, who after meeting Arnulfo want to bring members from their office into the prison. He has worked with judges, politicians, and lawyers to shed light on improving the way we approach and look at mass incarceration, rehabilitation, juvenile justice and reentry.”
Kenny Brydon was a former Editor-in-chief of the San Quentin News. He paroled in 2017.
Born on Thanksgiving Day in Los Angeles. Joined the United States Air Force after high school. Three years, eleven months and thirteen days later, he’s honorably discharged.
He enrolled in junior college, graduated in two years with an Associated Arts degree, and received a scholarship and a English degree from California State University Los Angeles.
Received his law degree from La Salle University and a doctorate from Orion University.
He spent 17 years as a senior system analyst for several Fortune Five Hundred corporations including an assignment with H. Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems; spent two years in the House of Representatives as staff assistance for the late Congressman Augustus Hawkins.
Arrested in 2004 and sentenced 17-years to life. He arrived at San Quentin in 2012. And in 2017, Mr. Henry received a commutation from Governor Brown and paroled from San Quentin State Prison.
Emile DeWeave was a San Quentin News staff writer. He also co-founded Prison Renaissance with Rahsaan Thomas.
Emile DeWeaver was serving a life sentence for a murder he committed at 19-years-old had his sentence commuted to time served and was released on parole in 2018.
We grow up with thinking errors about value and being rejected/isolated. It’s about connecting with strategies that support change in safe places. There needs to be places to nurture. I didn’t need to come to prison to change my life – that’s where I changed, but the same interventions that work so well at San Quentin should’ve been available to me when I was being thrown out of junior high school.
Former Staff member
Wesley Eisiminger was born in Van Nays California in August 1946.
After graduated high school in 1965, Eisiminger enlisted with a friend in the U.S. Army and was sent to Vietnam. He was seriously wounded in action and spent the rest of his enlistment in and out of hospitals.
Married in 1967, Eisiminger has a son, daughter, and two grandsons. He divorced in 1982 after 16 years of marriage.
He attended trade schools and college after his service. His main study was Engineering Design and later worked in multiple companies for their engineering departments, eventually becoming a Chief Engineer and later a Vice President.
In August of 1999, Eisiminger, a first time offender, was sentenced to life. When he came to San Quentin in 2013 he became a part of the Journalism Guild and eventually worked his way to becoming a Staff Writer.
Eddie Herena was born and raised in San Jose, California and comes from a large family.
San Quentin he has afforded him opportunity to participate in various self-help groups and he is a recent PUP graduate, class of 2017.
Aside from the pleasure he finds in learning, Mr. Herena found a new passion, photography. He plans on sticking with the art once released.
What he appreciates about working for the San Quentin News is the opportunity to humanizing prisoners through the lens.
"Often times people in the free world lose sight of our humanity. My job is to make sure they see our humanity." -Eddie D. Herena
“Time runs and flows and only death can stop it. The photograph is a blade that captures one dazzling instant in eternity” (Henri Cartier-Bresson).
Malik Harris was a staff writer and became Editor-in-chief in 2016.
Michael Harris a former San Quentin News Editor.
After 23½ years in federal and state prisons, Michael R. Harris was released from San Quentin State Prison on Oct. 11, 2011 and was met at the gate by two federal marshals. a. He has been active in numerous self-help organizations and was a leader in resurrecting the San Quentin News 3 ½ years ago.
Harris, once known as Harry O. on the streets of Los Angeles and in the music world, received 25 years to life for attempted murder and drug-related charges.
Samuel Hearnes was both a tour guide and SQ NEWS employee who paroled in 2018.
Curtis Roberts has served 24 years in prison. The story of his life has been highly publicized in such shows and magazines like: Earhustle’s podcast titled “LEFT BEHIND” , “E.S.P.N.” sports magazine and HBO’s real sports with Bryant Gumble.
“PBS” featured him in their Prop.57 airing. Ted Koppel interviewed Curtis here at San Quentin for the Sunday morning CBS show.
His main service for over ten years has been speaking with the public as they tour S.Q. – He enjoys being the face and voice for the mass incarcerated. You can often find him in his leadership role teaching other inmates public speaking.
Curtis’s greatest prison moment is when a group of high school students came to the prison ages fifteen, to seventeen . On this particular day, this little girl, after hearing Curtis’ Earhustle story, asked if she could talk with him. Curtis intently listened while she confessed a secret, she too (like Curtis) had been raped and had become suicidal just like he had. By the end of their tour of San Quentin, she promised to reveal her secret to her parents. In parting, she asked him for a hug and then she stated she had a gift for him – she wanted to give him a puppy. It is empowering moments like those that make up who Curtis is as a human being.
For nearly three years, since March of 2013, I have enjoyed contributing to the San Quentin News with my OG’s Perspective column, glad to let my son Larry Jr. pinch-hit occasionally. Arnulfo likes to encourage the newspaper staff to “move forward.” That’s what I’m going to do, with a focus on my family that is so dear to me and to completion of my memoir.